Against all the odds, The Spitz gig turned out to be something of a success. Predictably, my four day flu hit its peak on the morning of the gig and by the time we reached London, I could barely speak. A first!
I overdosed on a heady combination of Tom Jones’ throat lozenges of choice (Vocalzone) and Boots own brand nasal spray, the effects of which managed to clear my nostrils but failed to bring my exhausted croon back from the dead.
With journalists from The Wire, MOJO and Classic Rock and staff from Mute and OLI in attendance, as well as fans turning up from Canada, the US and all over the UK (Cardiff, Birmingham, Stalybridge etc…), there was no option to pull out. Fake David Niven moustache in place, I adopted plucky trooper mode and made the best of what was available to me.
The throat problem lent me a ‘walrus of love’ husky tonality throughout the performance and on the positive side, some of the tracks (‘World Afraid’, ‘Days Turn Into Years’) worked exceptionally well with me singing in an enforced, cracked, lower register. On the negative side, my entire upper range was a definite no go area and my vocal power severely diminished, with the sad result being that the bridge of ‘Sleepwalker’ sounded more Joe Pasquale than ‘Joe The Lion’.
Given how well the rehearsals had gone, it was a variable I’d not prepared for, although coming across like Rod Stewart’s raspier elder brother certainly worked in gaining sympathy on the night.
The band were on excellent form (managing to be that rare thing, powerfully subtle) and the specially commissioned visuals worked extremely well as a responsive backdrop to the atmospheric and frequently intense music. All the band members were superb, but perhaps Mike Bearpark’s sustained levels of textural inventiveness and Andy Booker’s increasingly astonishing drumming deserve special mention.
With a strong audience reaction and a guest list including Brian Eno (who was even heard to wolf-whistle at one point!) and Sonja Kristina (Curved Air), luckily, the potential Bowness Band disaster of 2004 was averted.
Stephen Bennett’s video to ‘Sleepwalker’ (featuring the charms of the ‘Mayo muse’) can now be viewed here. Coming in at less than the price of a Mars bar, it can truly be said that Baron Bennett has delivered in style.
Miles Davis And Gil Evans – The Complete Columbia Studio Recordings Stan Getz – Cool John Martyn – One World (deluxe edition)
Stan Getz, ‘Nobody Else But Me’ – Dave Gelly
Too Far To Go – John Updike
Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind (DVD)
Peter Gabriel – Play (DVD) Last Night (DVD)